Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: steering wheel won't unlock my key turns only to turn lights on but that's it can't unlock steering wheel to start the car what to

asked by on

I went to the shop and got in my BMW but the steering wheel was locked I wiggle it and make sure it's in park and turn my key but the key only turns a little bit so the lights and radio turn on but that's it and it won't unlock the steering wheel so I can turn on the car what should I do because the steering wheel won't unlock so I can start my car and drive

My car has 176000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

The steering lock may not be unlocking either due to a faulty ignition lock housing or more commonly as the cars age a faulty spring at the steering wheel on the under side of the column. If the ignition lock housing is the issue the housing can be replaced. It s a bit tricky as the mounting bolt has break off heads and generally need to be driven out with a punch. If the lock is not disengaging because of a faulty spring on the ignition lock many owners have had the spring removed by having it drilled out of the housing. However, removing the spring may permanently disable the steering lock. The last option would be to replace the steering column. You may want to enlist the help of a mechanic who can recommend the proper repair for your situation.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!
  • Home
  • Questions
  • steering wheel won't unlock my key turns only to turn lights on but that's it can't unlock steering wheel to start the car what to

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Cant start my car.

The battery in the remote may have to be replaced. The remote batteries only last around 8 years and tend to lessen the time if the keys are dropped. I suggest replacing the battery in the remote and reprogramming the...

Q: How do I select whether the welcome screen comes on?

Your multi-information display welcome screen can come on in two different ways: when you turn it on manually, or automatically when the ignition is turned to On. To choose which setting you would like for the welcome screen, follow these...

Q: Trans sensors

Hello. From what you describe it would appear that your vehicle suffered some sort of serious issue, especially if it put the vehicle in limp mode. A few things that can cause the symptoms you describe are issues with the...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...